Recent Work By TNB Editors

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Te-Ping Chen. Her debut story collection, Land of Big Numbersis available from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It is the official January pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

 

Chen’s fiction has been published in The New Yorker, Granta and Tin House. She is a Wall Street Journal correspondent in Philadelphia who was previously based in Beijing and Hong Kong. She has reported on rice cookers and wrongful convictions, gotten hung up on by Edward Snowden and eaten more robot-cooked noodles than she can count.

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“Gripping and illuminating . . . At the heart of Te-Ping Chen’s remarkable debut lies a question all too relevant in 21st Century America: What is freedom?” —Jennifer Egan

Gripping and compassionate, Land of Big Numbers traces the journeys of the diverse and legion Chinese people, their history, their government, and how all of that has tumbled—messily, violently, but still beautifully—into the present.

Cutting between clear-eyed realism and tongue-in-cheek magical realism, Chen’s stories coalesce into a portrait of a people striving for openings where mobility is limited. Twins take radically different paths: one becomes a professional gamer, the other a political activist. A woman moves to the city to work at a government call center and is followed by her violent ex-boyfriend. A man is swept into the high-risk, high-reward temptations of China’s volatile stock exchange. And a group of people sit, trapped for no reason, on a subway platform for months, waiting for official permission to leave.

With acute social insight, Te-Ping Chen layers years of experience reporting on the ground in China with incantatory prose in this taut, surprising debut, proving herself both a remarkable cultural critic and an astonishingly accomplished new literary voice.

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Rob Doyle. His new book, Threshold, is available from Bloomsbury.

 

Doyle’s debut novel, Here Are the Young Men, was published in 2014 by Bloomsbury and the Lilliput Press. It was selected as one of Hot Press magazine’s ‘20 Greatest Irish Novels 1916-2016’, and has been made into a film starring Dean Charles Chapman and Anya Taylor Joy. This is the Ritual, a collection of short stories, was published in 2016 to widespread acclaim.

Doyle is the editor of the anthology The Other Irish Tradition (Dalkey Archive Press), and In This Skull Hotel Where I Never Sleep (Broken Dimanche Press). He has written for the Guardian, TLS, Vice, Sunday Times, Dublin Review, Observer and many other publications, and throughout 2019 he wrote a weekly column on cult books for the Irish Times. 

He lives between Ireland and Berlin.

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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Gil Adamson. Her new novel, The Ridgerunner, will be published in the United States by House of Anansi Press on February 2, 2021.

 

 

Adamson is the critically acclaimed author of The Outlander, which won the Dashiell Hammett Prize for Literary Excellence in Crime Writing, the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, the ReLit Award, and the Drummer General’s Award. It was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, CBC Canada Reads, and the Prix Femina in France; longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; and chosen as a Globe and Mailand Washington Post Top 100 Book. She is also the author of a collection of linked stories, Help Me, Jacques Cousteau, and two poetry collections, Primitive and Ashland. She lives in Toronto.

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On January 4, 2021, Juliet Escoria, Joseph Grantham, and Megan Boyle liveblogged in solidarity. This took place 29 days after the last time they liveblogged in solidarity. Read their days below.

 

JULIET ESCORIA

JANUARY 4, 2021

 

~6:30am: woke up feeling very afraid of (dream) but couldn’t remember what dream was.

 

~7am: woke up again to pee and eat one spoonful of dulce de leche* **

 

*I feel like it’s just good public policy for people to understand how easy it is to make dulce de leche. You take a can of sweetened condensed milk, remove the label, put the can in a giant pot of water, and simmer for ~3.5 hrs. Then you take the pot off the burner and let the water return to room temperature. You have to make sure the water covers the can at all times or else it can explode. If you follow these simple steps, you will have perfect dulce de leche.

 

**I take Seroquel for my brain. Seroquel makes eating sugar during the sleep hours taste so so good.

 

11am: woke up to alarm, felt very tired, slept on and off til 11:50. I’ve been going to bed a little too late and waking up much too late and I would be concerned about it if it wasn’t winter break. But it’s winter break so who cares, let’s party and get 9 hrs of sleep.

 

11:50am: stared at phone. Joey texted about liveblog and also a Nicolas Winding Refn movie about Reagan. Seems funny, an odd choice for the ole Nicolas. Joey mentions Reagan kind of a lot and I’m pretty sure it’s just a temporary coincidence due to him watching the Reagan doc on the Showtime but I love to imagine him as a closeted Reaganite lol. Megan also texted about liveblog and attending a cyber anonymous 12 step group tonight with another anonymous pal of ours. I agreed to cyber.

 

12:10pm: stopped staring at phone. got up, coffee, fed dog, etc.

 

12:28pm: sat down to type this. It is now 12:39. 

 

Here is a list of my tentative goals for the day, to be accomplished roughly in this order:

 

  • Putter some gas on starting a new story
  • Do this silly thing for school that won’t take too long
  • Ask Scott for advice about my “educational goals”/maybe make some phone calls
  • Work on Possible New Writing Project
  • Yoga
  • Cyber 12 step
  • Maybe call mom, partially for “educational goals” advice, partially just to chat

 

I shall write more about each step as I do them so I will not elaborate on any of them for now!!!!!!! 12:43 now

 

1:34pm: I finished a long-ass story two days ago and now I feel like I’m out of story juice. Scott keeps on acting like it’s insane to think you can just write story after story, but I did that for Black Cloud and thought it would be easier than writing another novel. It is easier than a novel, much fewer crises, but I forgot that Black Cloud was only 20k words and I’m trying to write a full-length collection now, and a lot of the stories in Black Cloud I’d written in grad school anyway, and yeah, writing story after story is kind of hard. But I’m almost done, I have to write like 1-3 more, except I feel completely out of juice. I feel like a boat where you turn on the motor and it goes put-put-put and then it just turns off. I have a list of stories I want to write and none of them are screaming “me! work on me now!” the way they used to. I started working on one yesterday and felt completely not into it and I started working on it again today and I felt completely not into it and so I started writing one of the other stories and I felt like I could do it. I made a plan for tomorrow. I knew today wouldn’t go too well so my plan for today was to come up with a plan for tomorrow and I did that. It always works better if you have a plan. 

 

I now have to do some schoolwork. For accreditation you have to collect a lot of data and so I have to turn the work my students did into data and it’s very stupid. I have a problem with how the data is being collected, like I think it’s ineffective and confusing, and I also have a problem with the fact that we have to collect data at all. I think accreditation is good because you should have some sort of standards of what a college is, and I agree that a student should get basically the same thing from an English class regardless of what school they go to, but overall accreditation is a big racket and one of the major problems we have with higher ed, and if we had less insane accreditation processes and less insane administrative bloat then tuition could be cheaper and we wouldn’t be in such a crisis for student loans. Even though I think that this data nonsense is unethical and silly I will be a good employee and turn this stuff into data anyway. 

 

2:29pm: I completed the data. I did my best to be a good employee and do a good job. I had to ask Scott for help. I don’t know what the other faculty does, the ones who don’t live with another faculty member and can’t compare notes. Scott said he was in a horrible mood and we shouldn’t have stayed up so late last night but he helped me and I helped him. The data entering hurt my brain.

 

My course evaluations were also ready so I looked at those. Looking at course evaluations feels like looking at Goodreads reviews—it’s best to just not know what other people think sometimes—but I tried really hard this semester (probably too hard) to be a good teacher during stupid covid zoom school and I looked anyway. I only had one student mad at me (saying Disagree for some of the questions), probably this one student I got into a fight with because they cheated, and the angry student didn’t seem to leave any comments so all the comments were nice & I guess my extreme efforts at being a good professor paid off. So it was like looking at Goodreads and only seeing a nice review.

 

Realized I only have one week of break left, two weeks before school begins (next week I have the Week of Meetings). BUMMERINO MAN

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with George Saunders. His new book, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, is available from Random House.

 

This is George’s second time on the program. He first appeared in Episode 100, on August 29, 2012.

Saunders is the author of eleven books, including Lincoln in the Bardo, which won the 2017 Man Booker Prize for best work of fiction in English, and was a finalist for the Golden Man Booker, in which one Booker winner was selected to represent each decade, from the fifty years since the Prize’s inception. The audiobook for Lincoln in the Bardo, which featured a cast of 166 actors, won the 2018 Audie Award for best audiobook.

His stories have appeared regularly in The New Yorker since 1992. The short story collection Tenth of December was a finalist for the National Book Award, and won the inaugural Folio Prize in 2013 (for the best work of fiction in English) and the Story Prize (best short story collection).

He has received MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships, the PEN/Malamud Prize for excellence in the short story, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2013, he was named one of the world’s 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. In support of his work, he has appeared on The Colbert ReportLate Night with David LettermanAll Things Considered, and The Diane Rehm Show.

Saunders was born in Amarillo, Texas and raised in Oak Forest, Illinois. He has a degree in Geophysics from the Colorado School of Mines and has worked as a geophysical prospector in Indonesia, a roofer in Chicago, a doorman in Beverly Hills, and a technical writer in Rochester, New York. He has taught, since 1997, in the Creative Writing Program at Syracuse University.

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This week on Otherppl: an epic end to a pathetic and demoralizing year.

 

With guest appearances by Megan Boyle, Leland Cheuk, Richard Chiem, Rachel Bell de Navailles, Juliet Escoria, Joseph Grantham, Mik Grantham, Ben Loory, Gene Morgan, Timothy Willis Sanders, and Bud Smith.

Special guest: Rich Ferguson.

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Alex Branson. His new novel, Water, Wastedis available from Rare Bird Books. It is the official December pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

 
Branson works for a non-profit in South Jersey. Before that, he worked at group homes in rural Missouri and Chicago for eight years. He is one of the hosts of E1 Podcast.

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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Michael Schumacher. He is the editor of The Fall of America Journals, 1965-1971, by the late Allen Ginsberg, available now from the University of Minnesota Press.

 

Schumacher is also the author of the acclaimed Ginsberg biography Dharma Lion (Minnesota, 2016). Along with Ginsberg’s Iron Curtain Journals and South American Journals and Conversations with Allen Ginsberg (all from Minnesota), he has edited Family Business, selected correspondence between Allen and Louis Ginsberg, and The Essential Ginsberg, a reader of Ginsberg’s best work. He lives in Wisconsin.

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On December 6, 2020, Megan Boyle, Juliet Escoria, and Joseph Grantham liveblogged in solidarity. This took place exactly 212 days after the last time they liveblogged in solidarity. Here are their days:

 

JULIET ESCORIA

DEC. 6, 2020

 

~9:30 am: had a thought/dream about a terrarium/geode that was the size of a large marble but when you opened it up, it was much bigger. In the thought/dream, that was how things worked: things are bigger on the inside. I guess that’s not a lie since my intestines are like 600 miles long but I am only 5’4.75”. (when I googled, the answer to how long intestines are was inconsistent but it was about 15’, less than I thought, disappointing)

 

Phone was “popping off” with joey and megan texting about the liveblarg. Went to pee, put my sleep mask on so I could go back to zzzzzzzzland.

 

~11:30am: woke up for real. Responded to texts, stared at phone. Felt excited to get up and do liveblarg, which is good because yesterday I felt very very bad and not excited about much of anything. Went upstairs, made coffee, took dog out to pee, got work area ready downstairs, etc. It is pretty today, sunny and a little cold. Also ate a large brownie from brownie batch I had made yesterday. It is currently 12:10pm. I have my SAD lamp on. Both Scott and I are now SAD lamp users. SAD lamps rule. Going to work on this story that I absolutely and completely hated yesterday. Hopefully I do not have hate for it today. 

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Travis Hoewischer. He is the author of the Two Dollar Radio Guide to Naming Your Baby, available now from Two Dollar Radio.

Hoewischer has spent twenty years as a journalist, standup comedian, and non-profit leader. This is his first book. He was almost called Andrew.

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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Darien Gee. She has two books out this year. The first is called Other Small Histories, a poetry collection available from Poetry Society of America. And the second is a collection of micro-essays called Allegiance, available from Legacy Isle Publishing.

 

Gee is the author of five novels published by Penguin Random House that have been translated into eleven languages. She won the 2019 Poetry Society of America’s Chapbook Fellowship award for Other Small Histories. She lives with her family on the Big Island of Hawai‘i.

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Following the shocking death of a teenage boy, Barrett and Amelia are moved to revisit the passing of their own daughter, Edi, which occurred in the same small town nearly a decade earlier. Amelia finds herself caring for the recently deceased boy’s “sort of” girlfriend, who faces constant harassment and accusations from the townsfolk, while Barrett combs through Edi’s self-published fantasy novels in an effort to connect with her. As he reads, an increasingly bizarre wave of incidents crashes down upon the town involving a talking goat, Bigfoot, and a G-Man with alien thought patterns, to name but a few. As the Missouri River slowly floods, and the thin line between fact and fiction is washed away, Barrett and Amelia struggle against the great unknown and search desperately for inner peace. Blending whimsy and wonder with a mix of mayhem and malevolence, Water, Wasted takes readers on a tour of loss, redemption, and the great unknown.

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Kasey Thornton. Her debut novel-in-stories, Lord the One You Love is Sick, is available now from Ig Publishing. It is the official November pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

 

Thornton attended both the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and North Carolina State University for her MFA in Fiction. She lives with fellow author Kevin Kauffmann in Durham County, North Carolina, where members of her family have resided for over two hundred years. Her creative work has been featured in the Masters Review, TJ Eckleberg Review, tinyjournal, Colonnades Literary & Art Journal, and Apeiron Review.

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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Andrew Weatherhead. His latest book, $50,000, is available from Publishing Genius.

 

Weatherhead is a writer and artist from Chicago, Illinois. His other books include the poetry collections TODD and Cats and Dogs — and a chapbook, The Kids I Teach, with Mallory Whitten. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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